Youth Board blog: The lost art of making time for each other

In a special Valentine’s Day blog, Tender Youth Board member Zainab explores the importance of creativity in young people’s relationships.

Being able to spend quality time with loved ones is a luxury that, unfortunately, is becoming increasingly rare for people across the board. People get busy. My friends got busy.  

While I jumped into full-time work right after finishing college, a few of my friends took a different path: university. My work schedule began to feel isolating – I only had a few hours in the working week that I was free, but in those hours my friends had assignments to catch up on. When my friends were free, I was busy doing overtime. 

Spontaneous meet-ups became impossible. I began to feel that ‘lost time’ had to be made up for, with double interest. Meaning if I couldn’t see my loved ones often, the pockets of time we had available had to be transformed into unique, worthwhile memories.

This mindset is unfortunately common among young people beginning their careers or entering higher education, who find themselves struggling to balance a social life with strict responsibilities. 

But the pressure to ‘maximise’ time with loved ones can mean that the relationship starts to feel like it has a price-tag: a ‘catch-up’ brunch will cost you a fiver for a coffee and pastry, and date nights can become a chore if you’re constantly looking at Instagram for the next popular restaurant to try out. I often feel pressured to avoid going in for simple activities or ‘cheap’ gifts for fear of coming across as disinterested in the person I want to spend time with. After all, if I haven’t seen this person for ages, I should do (or get) something special for them, right? 

But there is a way of deepening social bonds without depleting yourself: getting creative together. Shared activities such as painting in the park, learning choreography on YouTube or sewing themed outfits for each other for an at-home Grammys night can all be personalised ways of showing your appreciation for your loved ones, while staying within your monthly budget. 

This method is tried and tested. For my friend’s 21st birthday party, I planned an at-home soiree and whiled away several hours with laughter, karaoke, delicious homemade food and scrapbooking. Each person came dressed as their favourite painting and we each made a personalised bookmark for the birthday girl, whose family and colleagues had otherwise gifted her enough books to start a private library! 

Participating in creative activities together can mean that both parties have a pretext to meet up again to continue what was begun – and the gift of art is that it can keep on giving as much as you need from it! Making up haikus together can lead to spoken word poetry nights, and painting your friend’s nails can turn into a small business idea. 

A coffee normally ends in a coffee.

Find out more about Tender’s Youth Board.

Explore our Valentine’s Day campaign – featuring Dr. Who star Jodie Whittaker!